Trial and tribulation at a modern keyboard

by Leo Vinette

So who was the Einstein who invented this marvelous piece of technology called the computer? This “tech-no” piece of machinery that makes our lives easier. This space-age wizard of wonderment. This, this, this…

I knew I should have stuck to the old tried, tested and dependable typewriter. After all, what’s so damn hard about changing a ribbon? In this modern age you don’t even have to loop it around several obstacles. All you do is plunk in a cartridge and it’s done.

Unlike these tormentors from that forsaken place, which have a habit of shutting down and crashing at the most inopportune time.

Lately I’ve been running close to the wire in the race to get this column in on time. There just don’t seem to ever be enough hours in a day, a week or a month.

Like most of you, I’ve been running pretty hard lately. There seems to be an overabundance of work, so I’ve been doing this column in spurts of bits as time allows.

A little bit here. A little bit there.

Anyhow, I am now overdue and I do not have access to my computer. My hard drive has retired. Where it has gone I do not know. My memory being what it is, I do not remember verbatim what it was that I had so meticulously, thoughtfully and scholastically written.

Those profound words of wisdom and insight have seemingly gone the way of my hard drive and retired as well.

I do recall, however, that I wanted to acknowledge Gary King’s contribution to this industry, starting the Trucker Buddy program that has since spread throughout North America.

Gary is one of those spiritual and positive personalities who wants to contribute. He believes in positive reinforcements, and he believes in education. I recall my impression the first time I heard of the Trucker Buddy program. What a great program, I thought, when hearing about this network of trucker penpals matched to public school classrooms. What a great idea it is to help educate little minds during a fun and interesting learning experience. Who hasn’t had a family pass by at one time or another with little kids in the car motioning for you to blow the air horn? Most kids love trucks. (Well, except for the children of Ministry of Transportation personnel. Those kids just want to hand you tickets.)

Gary really landed on a wonderful diplomatic tool when he thought up this program. As well as giving kids a fun way to learn lessons in communication, geography and life, its participants act as ambassadors for our industry. To teach the parents about no-zones and the vital role our industry plays in their everyday existence is invaluable. This approach puts it on a more personal level. The children discuss with their parents the places their trucker buddies have been, the products they’ve hauled, the messages of safety they have to convey through their letters.

Gary has relayed stories of drivers who were moved to tears because of the emotional attachments they have made with their students. We’ve all gone down the road at one time or another with something less than a smile on our mugs. Can you imagine receiving a letter from your class of kids just after a DOT check?

Just ask Hubert MacCallum, an owner/operator who used to pilot his truck all over this world, lonely and unfulfilled, before discovering that at any given time there were maybe a couple of hundred people who cared and worried about him. Since he’s been a Dragon Buddy — an Ontario program similar to the North American Trucker Buddy network — there’s been a smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes. He knows how important his contribution has been to his little buddies.

Hubert has been a Dragon Buddy since the inception of the program up here (around four years ago), and you can hear the satisfaction in his voice whenever he discusses the program. I would encourage all of you who want to feel a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment to volunteer a few moments a month by participating.

You will get more out of such a program than you put into it.

Not only is it fun, enlightening and fulfilling, but your effort and contribution will go a long way towards enhancing our industry’s image.

To get in touch with the Trucker Buddy program, call Gary at 1-800-MY BUDDY, or go to the website at For the Dragon Buddy program contact Marty Myerscough at Hillcrest Public School in Kitchener, Ont. at 519-658-5187.

As a final note, I want to congratulate this year’s Canadian Owner/Operator of the Year, Donald L.J. MacDonald. I cannot adequately put into words the respect and admiration that this professional driver deserves. Driving the unfathomable number of 5 million accident-free miles is something this industry really needs to not only embrace but also brag about. This is something we need to share with the motoring public. For those of you who have driven 2 million miles, you know what a feat and accomplishment that is. But can you imagine 5 million miles?

The motoring public owes this man a debt of gratitude because you know damn well that, in all those miles, Donald has saved more than a few lives by taking evasive and defensive actions of one sort or another.

Congratulations, Donald.

Thanks for being such a fine professional representative for all of us! n

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